• Residential Treatment Program for Teens 14-18


mental health days

Should High Schoolers Have Mental Health Days in School?

Should High Schoolers Have Mental Health Days in School? 2560 1943 The Solstice Team

High schoolers face a lot of stress outside the classroom that can impact their ability to stay present in class. Mental health issues among teens have skyrocketed in the past decade. While doctor’s appointments are considered excused absences, mental health is not treated the same as physical health in the school system. High schoolers are encouraged to take sick days to rest and catch up on schoolwork from home, but taking a mental health day to take care of themselves and mentally prepare to focus more on assignments is often considered school refusal. Some public schools have proposed that high schoolers should be allowed to take up to five mental health days off per semester to improve academic performance. 

What are Mental Health days?

While school-related stress affects the mental health of 61.5 percent of students, only 26.1 percent of them have ever taken a mental health day. The intention behind allowing for mental health days is that teens who leave school for therapy appointments, teens who have a panic attack in the morning and show up late, and teens who have experienced significant loss or trauma that need time to grieve will have excused absences. The goal is to bridge the gap between how we treat physical and mental health. Taking a mental health day from school is a chance for teens to reset their nervous system and get out of fight-or-flight mode. It’s a break from the everyday stress of tests, deadlines, and social pressures. Plus, it provides time for rest, reflection, and recharging. 

Many parents are concerned that missing classes will mean that their teen will get behind in school, reinforcing their low self-esteem and lack of motivation. Teaching children to work hard, show dedication, and always do their best is important. However, it is equally important to teach them how to listen to themselves, slow down, and recognize when they are not getting their needs met. Allowing them to take a break when overwhelmed can save them from spiraling deeper into depression. 

Teen mental health days bring awareness to the challenges that today’s adolescents face and foster open dialogue about this issue. As a result, the concept of taking a mental health day from school has the potential to reduce the stigma around mental illness.

How do Residential Treatment Centers Encourage Mental Health Days?

Academic programming at residential treatment centers is designed to integrate mental health education and awareness into the classroom. Qualified teachers are trained to identify signs that students are struggling and offer accommodations to better support their learning. Teachers understand that sometimes students will have therapy appointments during class or that they may need to step into the hallway when they are feeling overwhelmed and work with students to ensure that they stay caught up.

Our attitude is that mental health should be prioritized. We understand that many students who have struggled with mental health issues have had negative experiences at school, problems with attendance, and difficulty planning for their futures.  Our accredited academic program prepares students for college by emphasizing experiential learning and study skills that motivate students to be enthusiastic about what they learn. Regardless of their academic performance, students struggle to feel accomplished when their mental health is compromised. 

Ways to Integrate Mental Health Education into Academics

  • Offer creative electives. Visual art, music, and journaling are beneficial activities for processing emotions and tapping into creativity. Electives are graded based on investment rather than the quality of performance, which allows students to explore topics they find interesting without feeling as much academic pressure. 
  • Spend time in nature. Teens spend a large chunk of their day in indoor classrooms, which can contribute to restlessness and low energy. Teachers often suggest holding class outdoors, as spending time in nature is proven to lower the stress hormone cortisol. As a result, stress, depression, and anxiety levels go down.
  • Cultivate authentic connections. Supportive, caring relationships are essential for adolescents. In small class sizes, teens have the opportunity to speak up in class and feel a sense of community with their peers. Teachers make an effort to build close relationships with students outside the classroom by offering additional academic support and college counseling. Teachers become invested in teens’ therapeutic growth by working closely with the clinical team to understand students’ needs in the classroom.
  • Block schedules.  As a year-round schedule with five quarters, students have the opportunity to catch up on credits, get ahead, or integrate more electives into their schedules. Classes meet for half days to make room for group therapy, therapy appointments, and study halls to help students work on their personal and academic goals. As classes meet four days a week, students have Fridays off to participate in recreational activities in the community.

Solstice RTC Can Help

Solstice West is a residential treatment program for young girls and assigned female at birth ages 14-18 who struggle with issues such as anxiety, depression, trauma, and/or relationship struggles. This program provides three types of therapy: individual, group, and family therapy to allow girls and assigned female at birth to explore themselves in a variety of ways. Through groups on various topics, girls and assigned female at birth learn to become more aware of their emotions and to express them appropriately to others. Students will leave with the skills they need to transition into the world feeling confident, happy, and able to manage their emotions.

For more information, call 866-278-3345. We can help your family today!

social anxiety in teens

Shyness or Social Anxiety in Teens? Symptoms and Triggers

Shyness or Social Anxiety in Teens? Symptoms and Triggers 1790 2560 The Solstice Team

Adolescence is filled with new experiences and challenges. Teen girls are going through physical and emotional changes and puberty starts and social dynamics begin to shift. With all these changes, it is easy to see how young women may feel uncomfortable or shy in these new situations. Friend groups may start to expand or contract, and your daughter will have to begin to learn how to create new friendships and relationships. This can be challenging for any teen girl, but for girls struggling with social anxiety, this can be even more difficult. 

Struggling to fit in with people your own age as a teen girl or child-assigned female at birth is terrible. Most teen girls and assigned female at birth base their entire lives around their social life. They make it a higher priority than spending time with their family and/or even doing well academically. For some teen girls, this social life is not an option. Social anxiety in teens can be absolutely crippling in many aspects of a teen’s life. Unlike the self-consciousness most people feel from time to time, social anxiety in teens creates a fear of social situations that is so intense people avoid all situations that might trigger the fear response.

What is social anxiety? 

Feelings of shyness or discomfort in certain situations aren’t necessarily signs of social anxiety disorder, particularly in children. Their comfort levels in social situations will vary, depending on their personality traits and life experiences. Some teens are naturally reserved and others are more outgoing.

In contrast to everyday nervousness, social anxiety disorder includes fear, anxiety and avoidance that interfere with daily routine, work, school or other activities. Social anxiety disorder typically begins in the early to mid-teens, though it can sometimes start in younger children or in adults.

Many people experience some form of anxiety in their lives, but social anxiety is a type of anxiety disorder that causes extreme fear in social settings. Teens with this disorder have trouble talking to peers, meeting new people, and attending social gatherings. They fear being judged or scrutinized by others. They may understand that their fears are irrational or unreasonable, but feel powerless to overcome them.

There is no one cause of social anxiety, but current research shows that it can be caused by a combination of environmental factors and genetics. Some negative experiences that could contribute to social anxiety are bullying, family conflict, and abuse. Physical abnormalities such as a serotonin imbalance may contribute to this condition. Serotonin is a chemical in the brain that helps regulate mood. An overactive amygdala (the part of the brain that controls fear responses and feelings or thoughts of anxiety) may also cause these disorders.

Anxiety disorders can run in families, but it is currently unclear if there are genetic factors involved. A teen may develop an anxiety disorder by learning the behavior of a parent or family member who has an anxiety disorder. They learn to internalize these behaviors which can trigger a disorder of their own. Teens can also develop anxiety disorders as a result of being raised in controlling or overprotective environments.

Social anxiety in teens is actually fairly common. However, the social situations that trigger social anxiety can be very different. Some of these triggers include:

  • being the center of attention
  • meeting new people
  • making small talk
  • being criticized or teased
  • speaking with authority figures
  • public speaking
  • navigating new spaces

How can you tell if your teen has social anxiety?

Just because your teen occasionally gets nervous when she’s in social situations doesn’t mean they necessarily have social anxiety. Many people are shy or self-conscious—at least from time to time—but it doesn’t get in the way of their everyday functioning. Social anxiety in teens, on the other hand, does get in the way of a teen’s normal routine and can cause tremendous distress. That’s why it’s important to note symptoms of social anxiety in teens:

  • Fear that others will notice nervousness
  • Fear of humiliation and being watched by others
  • Feeling dizzy
  • Reddened face
  • Blushing
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Trembling
  • Sweating
  • Upset stomach or nausea
  • Trouble catching your breath
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Feeling that your mind has gone blank
  • Muscle tension

Teens with social anxiety may avoid situations that they used to enjoy such as social gatherings or school events. They may begin to withdraw and isolate as a way to deal with their anxiety. And while avoiding situations that cause anxiety may help them feel better in the moment, their anxiety is likely to continue if they do not receive treatment. 

If you notice that your teen is exhibiting signs or symptoms of a social anxiety disorder, it may be time to seek out professional help for a diagnosis. According to the ADAA, about 36 percent of people with social anxiety don’t speak to a healthcare provider until they have had symptoms for at least 10 years. The symptoms of social anxiety may themselves be a deterrent to reaching out for help. A mental health professional will diagnose social phobia from a description of your teen’s symptoms. They can also diagnose social phobia after examining certain behavioral patterns.

Treating Social Anxiety

There are several types of treatment available for social anxiety disorder, and different types of treatment make work for different people. For some, one type of treatment is beneficial, for others, a combination of treatments may be helpful. 

Treatment options for social anxiety disorder include: 

Cognitive behavioral therapy: This therapy helps teens learn how to control anxiety through relaxation and breathing, and how to replace negative thoughts with positive ones. CBT helps teens recognize their behavior patterns and how to address negative patterns to create positive one. 

Exposure therapy: This type of therapy helps teens gradually face social situations, rather than avoiding them. They can practice coping skills in challenging environments so that they can start to become more comfortable in these situations. 

Group therapy: This therapy helps teens learn social skills and techniques to interact with peers in social settings. Participating in group therapy with others who have the same fears may make them feel less alone. It will give them a chance to practice their new skills through role-playing.

There are also lifestyle changes you and your teen can take into consideration. Paying attention to their sleep habits and making sure they are getting enough rest can be a good first step, as well as avoiding stimulants like caffeine that can make them feel jittery or exacerbate anxiety symptoms. Some teens may also benefit from medications that manage anxiety symptoms. Antidepressants or anti-anxiety medications can play a part in a treatment plan. 

The most important thing to understand when dealing with an anxiety disorder is that it will likely take time for your teen to get under control. Encourage your teen to have patience and take pride in the steps they are taking to improve their mental health. 

Residential Treatment for Social Anxiety 

For some teens, making changes at home and participating in outpatient therapy can be helpful. Other teens may benefit from the structure and support of a residential treatment center. A residential treatment center like Solstice West combines therapy practices such as individual, family, adventure, and group therapy for a holistic treatment approach. 

Milieu therapy is an experiential therapeutic approach that utilizes the residential environment of our program to better understand how to help your child approach and overcome their challenges. At Solstice West, milieu therapy is carried out by observing your child’s behaviors and emotions throughout the day, within a variety of different settings. Milieu therapy provides an invaluable “in the moment” understanding of your child’s challenges, unique from traditional talk therapy. Milieu experiential therapy utilizes the social culture of a residential treatment environment to create positive changes in your child’s behavior. These changes are achieved through the therapeutic use of our campus’s “community”, which includes their peers, staff, community roles, and responsibilities, groups, and meetings. The positive influence of peers can promote a powerful and sustainable change when combined with the intentional application of other therapeutic interventions.

Volunteering and community service is a significant component of our adventure therapy program. Our students participate in community service regularly, volunteering at a variety of local and regional organizations. Our students learn how to build and maintain a sense of community by repeatedly volunteering with a select group of organizations in our area. As they gain stronger relationships with the people and organizations we work with, they begin to feel more connected to the community and the work they do.

Solstice West Can Help

Solstice West, a residential treatment center for teen girls and assigned females at birth ages 14-18, can help your child struggling with social anxiety. We help girls and assigned female at birth struggling with emotional and behavioral difficulties such as depression, anxiety, and eating issues. 

Our relationship-based philosophy is based on the significant body of research that supports the idea that the “therapeutic alliance” is the factor that contributes most to positive change in the therapeutic process. This “alliance” is referring to healthy, trusting relationships. At Solstice, we ensure that your child has the ability to develop many safe, secure, and authentic relationships. This begins with employing the right people. Also training them effectively in the process of building and maintaining these relationships with our clients and families. For more information about Solstice, please call (866) 278-3345.

mindful new year

Starting the New Year Strong: Mindfulness Practices for A Fresh Start

Starting the New Year Strong: Mindfulness Practices for A Fresh Start 2560 1707 The Solstice Team

After all of the challenges, heartache, and nonstop stream of negativity that 2020 brought to our world, 2021 presents an opportunity to reset our mindsets and start the new year intentionally with a fresh perspective. One way we can achieve this is through practicing mindfulness. A growing body of research supports the benefits mindfulness can have on our minds and bodies such as improved memory, heightened awareness, lowered anxiety, and reduced stress.

Mindfulness practices you can employ to restart and refresh your mind for the new year

While it’s common to conflate mindfulness with meditation, mindfulness encompasses so much more than the practice of meditation. Essentially, mindfulness is the moment to moment awareness of one’s experiences without judgment. This state of mindfulness or being aware is something that we can continually practice as we try to pay attention on purpose to the present moment.

Because mindfulness is fostered through regular practice, the first important step is putting aside time each day to engage in a mindfulness activity. Select a time of day where you will be able to engage in your practice uninterrupted, and commit to practicing every day.

Once you’ve set aside dedicated time to commit to your practice, it’s time to try performing various mindfulness practices. Different practices work better for different people, so it’s a good idea to vary up your exercises to see what works best for you. Try these mindfulness exercises to restart and refresh your mind in 2021:

1.) Bodyscan – During a Body Scan exercise, you deliberately focus inward on your body and what each part of your body is feeling. Is it pain, tension, calm? The task here is to develop an awareness of sensations in different parts of your body without trying to change them, only noticing them.

2.) Three-minute breathing – There are 3 steps to this practice, and the first is to attend to what is. Take note of the environment around you without attempting to change what you are experiencing. Then focus on your breath, noticing what happens when you breathe in and out. Lastly, focus your attention on your body and any sensations you may be feeling. Practice this technique here.

3.) Mindful stretching/yoga – Physically experiencing mindfulness can help to bring awareness to the mind-body connection. While you are stretching, bring attention to your breath while thinking about how your body feels. While engaging in this activity, try to focus only on the present sensations and not external, distracting thoughts.

4.) Mindful breathing while focusing on thoughts – For this practice sit somewhere quiet in a seated position. Focus deeply on your breathing, inhaling for 3 seconds and exhaling for 3 seconds. Continuing to focus on your breath, notice as your mind wanders and bring your attention back to the breath, again inhaling for 3 seconds and exhaling for 3 seconds.

5.) Mindful walks – When you are on a walk give your full attention to the experience of walking. Instead of walking on autopilot like we usually do, deliberately think about each step you are taking. Feel the ground beneath your feet, notice what this feels like as well as noticing the sights, smells, and sounds around you. Bringing attention to our everyday actions allows us to experience the mundane with a sense of newness.

If you are struggling to get started, there are some incredible mindfulness apps that you can download to help you with your practice. Try Headspace, Calm, Aura, or smiling mind to help you get started on your journey.

Solstice RTC Can Help

Solstice RTC is a leading residential treatment program for young girls and assigned female at birth ages 14-17 that has been specifically designed to help teen students on their journey toward healing by utilizing a blend of therapeutic techniques based on both traditional and holistic treatment methods.

Our holistic approach accounts for the fact that our physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, and relational selves are all bound together. We uniquely approach change, emphasizing students’ strengths within a therapeutic culture where acceptance, change, and growth are supported and valued. For more information on how Solstice RTC could help, please call (866) 278-3345.

social anxiety in teens

A silent fear: Recognizing social anxiety in teens

A silent fear: Recognizing social anxiety in teens 2560 1709 The Solstice Team

Have you noticed that your teen avoids social situations? Maybe they skip school dances or avoid any group activities after school? We tend to label those teens as “just shy”, but the reality is, there might be a bigger issue happening. If your teen feels an overwhelming amount of stress around social interactions, they may be struggling with social anxiety.

Signs of social anxiety in teens

Social anxiety is an intense, persistent fear of being watched and judged by others. It can affect teens at home, school, and their other day-to-day activities. It can even make it hard to make and keep friends. Teens with social anxiety may worry about something like a class presentation for weeks in advance. They may even avoid places or events where they believe they might do something that will embarrass them. 

Signs and symptoms of social anxiety in teens to be aware of:

  • Difficulty speaking, shaky voice
  • Rapid heart beat
  • Sweating
  • Nausea
  • Feeling dizzy or faint
  • Fear and avoidance of social situations
  • Extreme fear of being thought foolish by others, even with an understanding that the fear is unreasonable
  • Dread of social events that begins days or weeks in advance
  • Severe test anxiety
  • Irritability or anger before a social event
  • Hyper-sensitivity to criticism
  • Poor school performance

How To Help Your Teen With Social Anxiety

Not only do teens dealing with social anxiety suffer from the symptoms associated with the disorder, they also must overcome the consequences of their anxiety. Teens with social anxiety don’t participate in class, they are afraid to ask their teacher questions, and have trouble working on group assignments. Because of this, they struggle in school. If social anxiety is left untreated, it leaves teens at risk to develop other mental health issues such as depression, eating disorders, and suicidal ideation. It’s important to get your teen with social anxiety help as soon as you recognize what they are dealing with.

If your teen is struggling with social anxiety, you need to get them help as soon as possible. There are several ways you can help your teen work through their social anxiety. These include:

  • Teaching them breathing control: Breathing exercises are a proven way to reduce stress and help an individual calm down in situations that cause anxiety.
  • Change lifestyle habits: Cutting out caffeine and sugar can help your teen reduce anxiety. Also, make sure they are getting enough sleep at night. This may not be enough to help overcome social anxiety, but it helps with the overall healing process.
  • Help them face their fears: By introducing them gradually to social situations, your teen will begin feeling more comfortable around people. Start by having them accompany a friend to a small gathering and work up from there.

Further treatment at Solstice RTC

If your teen is struggling with social anxiety, consider getting help from Solstice. Solstice is a residential treatment center for teens ages 14-18 struggling with emotional and behavioral issues such as anxiety, depression, and eating disorders.

For more information about how Solstice can help your daughter, call (866) 278-3345.

teen with anxiety

5 Tips for Helping Your Teen with Anxiety During a Pandemic

5 Tips for Helping Your Teen with Anxiety During a Pandemic 2560 1707 The Solstice Team

The world has drastically changed in the past 5 months. Everything from the way we work to the way we are able to interact with family and friends has shifted, and all that change can be challenging for teens who already struggle with anxiety. And while it is normal to feel worried during a pandemic, there are ways to identify a more serious anxiety disorder in your teen and offer them support. 

Are They Worried or Is it Anxiety?

According to the Mayo Clinic: “people with anxiety disorders frequently have intense, excessive and persistent worry and fear about everyday situations. Often, anxiety disorders involve repeated episodes of sudden feelings of intense anxiety and fear or terror that reach a peak within minutes (panic attacks).” Anxiety disorders manifest in different ways:

  • Generalized anxiety disorder is a chronic state of severe worry and tension, often without provocation. 
  • Panic disorder refers to sudden and repeated panic attacks—episodes of intense fear and discomfort that peak within a few minutes.
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder is marked by intrusive thoughts or compulsions to carry out specific behaviors, such as handwashing.
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder may develop after experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event.

If your teen is exhibiting any of the above behaviors or has received a formal diagnosis, there are ways that you can help them manage their anxiety.

5 Tips for Helping Your Teen During a Pandemic

  • Foster Positive Relationships

    • Even though we often expect teenagers to act more like adults, their brains are still forming a changing. It is important for teens with anxiety to have a strong familial connection, whether that be with a parent or guardian. This deep and sustaining bond can help teens feel grounded and connected. 
  • Help Them Be Flexible

    • Help your teen let go of the idea of perfection. They don’t need to do everything absolutely perfectly. Give them the space to make mistakes and learn in the process. If they’re anxious about a new school format this fall, remind them that everyone will be learning this new system together.
  • Normalize Being Worried

    • The last thing someone with anxiety wants to hear, is that there’s nothing to be worried about. Verbalize to your teen that it is absolutely normal to be worried right now. Let them know that they are allowed to feel their feelings and give them the support they need while they explore those feelings.
  • Practice Empathy

    • Empathy is a powerful tool in a parent’s toolbox. When a teen is expressing their anxiety (through words or actions) it can be incredibly impactful for parents to sit with them and engage through questions like “How did that make you feel?” or “What are you feeling in your body?”
  • Seeking Treatment

    • If you feel that your child’s anxiety is spiraling out of control, there are options such as a Residential Treatment Center. These programs are designed to provide a warm, inviting setting with a strong focus on individual growth and academic progress. 

Solstice Residential Treatment Center is a program for troubled adolescent girls and assigned female at birth that emphasizes the mind-body connection in our unique approach to holistic healthcare. With a strong emphasis on family therapy based intervention, nutrition, and physical fitness, and the supportive provision of cutting-edge academics, substance abuse/addiction therapy, equine therapy, and psychiatric services, Solstice sets the stage for the infusion of light into the previously darkened lives of the families we serve. For more information, click here or call (866) 278-3345.

students with social anxiety

Small Class Sizes Support Students with Social Anxiety

Small Class Sizes Support Students with Social Anxiety 2560 1707 The Solstice Team

In a public school classroom with thirty other students, it can feel overwhelming for teens with social anxiety to speak up and participate in class discussions. They may worry about other people judging what they say or feel ashamed for not participating often. This can also make it hard for them to get to know other students. Instead, they may sit in the back of the classroom and tune out other people’s voices when they get overwhelmed, which can affect their ability to stay caught up on course material. At residential treatment centers, small class sizes are designed to support students with social anxiety by empowering them to be an active participant in the classroom. 

How Does Social Anxiety Affect School Performance?

Anxiety can affect learning in a variety of ways–from feeling nervous before a test at school to avoiding asking teachers clarifying questions to a fear of going to school and feeling alone. Sometimes kids will do perfectly well on tests and homework, but when they’re called on in class teachers hit a wall in trying to engage students. They might have been paying attention to the lesson and they might even know the answer, but when they’re called on their anxiety level becomes so heightened that they can’t respond.  

Some kids will avoid or even refuse to participate in things that make them anxious. This includes obvious anxiety triggers like giving presentations, but also things like gym class, eating in the cafeteria, and doing group work.

When teens start skipping classes or assignments to avoid facing social anxiety, it might look to their teachers and peers like they are uninterested or underachieving, but the opposite might be true. Often, teens with social anxiety avoid things because they are afraid of making a mistake or being judged. When teens are excessively self-conscious, it can make it difficult for them to participate in class and socialize with peers.

The Power of Individualized Instruction

For many teens who struggle with anxiety in social situations, they have a much easier time showing what they know when teachers engage with them one-on-one or away from the group. It is easy for these students to slip under the radar, as teachers tend to focus on students who are more vocal in the classroom, including both those who are active participants and those who are disruptive. While staying after class to ask questions or opting to submit written responses to show that they are engaged with the material are helpful alternatives, many teachers do not have additional time to dedicate to personalizing an academic plan for each student.

With smaller class sizes and opportunities for tutoring or academic advising, students with social anxiety are given space to develop the skills they need to be successful in the classroom. 

Accommodations for Social Anxiety in Residential Treatment

Residential treatment centers that offer accredited academic programs are better prepared to make accommodations for students with social anxiety by offering a supportive learning environment. 

The Academic Director at Solstice West reviews all student records (transcripts, report cards, neuropsychiatric testing, educational testing, etc.) and ensures placement in the correct classes in order to facilitate successful learning, credit remediation or recovery, and to keep the student on track for high school graduation. An academic plan for each student is developed to address any and all academic concerns, including seemingly unrelated mental health struggles like social anxiety.

By offering 5 school quarters year-round and rolling admissions, teachers are better able to work with students on an individual basis to test their comprehension and use creative strategies to help teens with different learning styles succeed. With class sizes of up to eight students, group discussions feel less overwhelming and it is easier for students to get to know their classmates. Teachers also work closely with the treatment team to understand how teens with social anxiety are adjusting to the therapeutic milieu and how their outside social interactions may affect how engaged they are in class.

Solstice RTC Can Help

Solstice West is a residential treatment program for young girls and assigned female at birth ages 14-18 who struggle with issues such as anxiety, depression, trauma, and/or relationship struggles. This program provides three types of therapy: individual, group, and family therapy to allow girls and assigned female at birth to explore themselves in a variety of ways. Through groups on various topics, girls and assigned female at birth learn to become more aware of their emotions and to express them appropriately to others. Students will leave with the skills they need to transition into the world feeling confident, happy, and able to manage their emotions.

For more information, call 866-278-3345. We can help your child address how social anxiety affects their learning and work towards success in and out of the classroom.

teens with social anxiety

Navigating Online Relationships for Teens with Social Anxiety

Navigating Online Relationships for Teens with Social Anxiety 2560 1709 The Solstice Team

Social media is no longer just for networking with friends and family. In fact, many teens follow more influencers than people they know online. In order to go “viral” on a platform, their posts have to be public. As digital privacy becomes less important to teens, many teens are becoming more digitally intimate–sharing personal details online to people they don’t know in person. For teens with social anxiety who find it easier to develop online relationships than with their peers offline, it is important to remember that navigating online relationships requires different social rules. 

Why Does Socializing Online Feel Safer for Some Teens?

  • More anonymity
  • Delayed response time 
  • Can use filters, Photoshop, or a fake name
  • Less expectation of intimacy
  • Less fear of rejection 
  • Wider circle of acquaintances

For some teens who have experienced rejection and isolation offline, they may feel more comfortable interacting with others through a screen. Even if they recognize that their online relationships aren’t healthy or that the other person isn’t putting in enough effort, they may continue to pursue this relationship as online rejection hurts less than face-to-face rejection. If someone were to reject them online, it is not like the entire school would find out and shame them. 

Another benefit of socializing online for teens with social anxiety is that, in some ways, they might experience less Fear of Missing Out. They are able to maintain a wider circle of acquaintances and keep tabs on what is going on in the lives of people they know without being expected to start a conversation or make plans. This can reduce feelings of isolation and loneliness. 

Online socializing can help anxious teens maintain relationships with acquaintances that they may have struggled to make the effort to see, if they go to different schools or live in different cities. It can also help them develop stronger relationships with people that they may be too anxious to talk to at school. For example, introverted teens may prefer texting someone back and forth than picking up the phone or meeting someone at a coffeeshop for the same conversation, let alone trying to have the same conversation in front of a bigger group of people. Some people find it easier to make a generic post to their “followers” instead of sending the same text multiple times or starting a group chat with a restricted number of people, as they never know who might respond.

What Are the Risks Associated with Socializing Online?

  • Presenting a false self
  • Difficulty engaging in face-to-face interactions
  • Problems identifying red flags
  • Sexting
  • Getting catfished 

Social anxiety is often a predictor of internet addiction. Ironically, the more time teens spend worrying about how they are perceived online, the more likely they are to update their newsfeed or check for new notifications. One would think that the anxiety they experience around their social media presence would discourage them from being glued to their screens, but the opposite is usually true. The potential validation they might receive from online interactions often outweighs potential threats or hate messages.

How is Online Socializing Different from Offline Socializing?

  • Privacy Issues
  • Lack of Nonverbal Cues
  • Conversations cannot be permanently deleted
  • Hard to fully trust that the other person is being transparent
  • People are more likely to perform for an online audience

At a relationship-based residential treatment center for girls, teens learn how to be present with others offline and to interact without the distraction of smartphones. Many teens with social anxiety have developed insecurities in relationships based on past negative experiences with peers at school. In order to change beliefs about not being good enough in relationships, they must confront these beliefs and build evidence that this is not always true. 

Teens who had previously turned to the Internet to receive validation learn that they are liked by others when they act like their true selves. During group therapy, teens with social anxiety learn how to actively listen to others, ask for help, and provide mutual support as they discuss their relationship styles and how they developed these beliefs. This can lead to conversations about values in relationships, online safety, and ways to manage anxiety.

Solstice RTC Can Help 

Solstice is a groundbreaking residential treatment center for girls, ages 14 to 18. Our girls and assigned female at birth often struggle with depression, anxiety, trauma, ADHD,  technology addiction, and other emotional or behavioral problems when they come to us. Through a unique combination of therapeutic programs based upon both traditional and holistic mental health treatment, we treat our clients with age and gender-specific techniques. We strive to empower teenage people with the ability to believe in themselves offline and provide the tools and motivation required to instill these beliefs for life.

For more information about smartphone addiction, contact us at 866-278-3345. 


neurofeedback and anxiety

Neurofeedback Useful for Anxiety Treatment

Neurofeedback Useful for Anxiety Treatment 2560 1707 The Solstice Team

Teens with anxiety disorders often struggle to determine the root cause of their anxiety when they experience symptoms consistently. In some cases, they may have a hard time differentiating between generalized anxiety and when their anxiety is escalating. As their body has been trained to remain on alert, anxiety treatments like neurofeedback can help teens retrain their brains to calm down when feeling overwhelmed.

What is Neurofeedback?

Neurofeedback is a computer-aided technique that impacts brainwave activity, resulting in significant changes across memory, cognition, and focus. This science-backed method is designed to train the most important organ in our body – the brain.

In a way, neurofeedback is like a video game or a form of exercise for the brain. By wearing a specially-designed helmet which tracks brain activity and a display for live feedback, teens can control different images using their brain. Teens can train their focus just as if they were training a muscle. The secret is getting the brain to produce the ‘right’ kind of waves. 

How Does Neurofeedback Work? 

Biofeedback instruments quantify how a child’s body reacts to certain stimuli. Like a form of exercise for the brain, students are hooked up to sensors that are tracking the behavior of the brain’s neural pathways while observing images on a screen, such as a movie or a video game. When the neural pathways are not functioning properly, the screen will get smaller and quieter. 

For example, the screen will get louder and brighter as the neural pathways are functioning well. video games used in neurofeedback won’t let a child progress unless they changes a behavior at the moment. As you repeat those trainings, the brain learns how to keep itself in that calmer place. You’ll still react to strong events, but you teach your brain to be calmer. Essentially, the brain is identifying positive and negative associations and working to repair pathways in order to have the most healthy experience. This teaches the brain how to regulate itself properly and helps students recognize when they are feeling anxious or distracted.

How Does Neurofeedback Help Reduce Anxiety?

Often, when people experience trauma, anxiety, or depression, the neural pathways in the brain have gotten confused along the way and are not functioning properly. Participating in neurofeedback sessions allows teens to see instant feedback about how their brain responds to different situations in real-time, which gives them more insight into what triggers their anxiety. When they recognize that the screen is becoming less clear, they may step back and reflect on what they are feeling in the moment or what may have changed about their experience. Watching the screen become more focused again gives them the feedback that whatever they did in between was effective in helping them feel more regulated. 

Neurofeedback is a noninvasive way to reprogram the brain and make lasting changes. It is particularly effective for teens who struggle with identifying anxious thoughts and being aware of how it affects their everyday life.

Neurofeedback in Residential Treatment

Every student receives 3-4 sessions per month of neurofeedback as part of our therapeutic programming. Each session will be accompanied by 3 brain mappings (data processed into a visual representation of brain wave patterns). 

Jaime Palmer, MSW, LCSW, Executive Clinical Director at Solstice West, believes neurofeedback will provide an additional level of care for students. The goal of neurofeedback is not to entirely replace traditional forms of therapy, but instead allow the neural pathways in a student’s brain to integrate with other forms of therapy more effectively. “We’ve seen that students who receive neurofeedback typically have a shorter length of stay and many are able to decrease their use of medication,” said Black. “It’s an innovative and effective way to decrease issues like anxiety and depression.”

Solstice RTC Can Help

Solstice West RTC  is a residential treatment program for young girls and assigned female at birth ages 14-18 who struggle with issues such as anxiety, depression, trauma, and/or relationship struggles. This program provides three types of therapy: individual, group, and family therapy to allow girls and assigned female at birth to explore themselves in a variety of ways. Through groups on various topics, girls and assigned female at birth learn to become more aware of their emotions and to express them appropriately to others. Solstice Residential Treatment Center is dedicated to teaching teens how to incorporate healthy habits into their lives. Students will leave with the skills they need to transition into the world feeling confident, happy, and able to manage their emotions.

For more information about our how Solstice helps teen girls and assigned female at birth manage anxiety, call 866-278-3345. We can help your family today.

how does mindfulness reduce stress

How Does Mindfulness Reduce Stress? 7 Outcomes of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction

How Does Mindfulness Reduce Stress? 7 Outcomes of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction 5956 3971 The Solstice Team

In a 2014 national survey conducted by the American Psychological Association, 31 percent of adolescents aged 13 to 17 said that their stress increased in the previous year, and 42 percent said they were not doing enough to manage their stress. Many teens turn to external sources for support, such as friends, family, hobbies, or professionals, however they are less likely to turn inwards and look for their own insight. Mindfulness empowers individuals to use skills they already have to be more intentional about their interactions. When feeling overwhelmed, mindfulness can help reduce physiological symptoms of anxiety, identify sources of stress, break down tasks into simpler objectives, and set goals to achieve tasks without sacrificing mental health.

Mindfulness vs Meditation

“Mindfulness is not a magic panacea, it’s not going to fix everyone’s problems,” USC researcher Nicholas Barr claims, “But if you talk to anyone who has practiced for some time in a serious way, you just notice a difference.” Many people are unclear about what constitutes mindfulness. Meditation is seen as a practice of stillness and silent contemplation used in Buddhist and Yogic lineages, however mindfulness has been adapted to be integrated into aspects of everyday life. Mindfulness encourages you to be here now and to notice thoughts that arise throughout your day that either help you meet your goals or get in the way of doing what you want. We often go through life on autopilot without realizing how detached we are from our experiences. While it can be hard to step back and see the bigger picture, it is a reminder that everything we do affects the way we feel and the way we interact with our social environment.

The University of California – Berkeley, describes mindfulness as “a way of being aware of each moment in our feelings, thoughts, surrounding environment, and bodily sensations. It’s a way to pay attention to ourselves and not judge, but accept what’s going on.” General mindfulness lessons include paying attention, living in the moment, and practicing radical acceptance. Examples of exercises include body scans, walking, or a formal sitting meditation focusing on your breath and awareness of thoughts.

7 Outcomes of Mindfulness

  • Reduces negative emotions. Increases energy and mood while decreasing restlessness and overwhelming emotions. Lowers physiological stress responses.
  • Sets intentions. Focuses on defining and strengthening personal values and belief systems. Instead of setting achievable goals, breaks things down into how you approach those goals and their desired outcomes. Goals are then redefined towards personal development and self-actualization.
  • Builds self-esteem. Strengthening one’s belief system strengthens identity and confidence.
  • Builds compassion for self and empathy for others. One common technique known as loving-kindness meditation reduces suffering by acknowledging suffering in others and remembering that it is a universal experience. By focusing on the moment, it relieves responsibility of the past and pressure of future expectations and allows people to show themselves kindness in the moment.
  • Cultivates positive emotions. By focusing on cultivating positive intentions and healthy ways of relating to your social environment, mindfulness can increase levels of dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin while increasing alpha brain waves and neural connectivity. Mindfulness helps manifest self-regulation and pleasurable experiences.
  • Encourages openness to new experiences and ability to be present. Focuses finding a balance between grounding and receiving. Limits judgment and fear of experiences. Opens space for reflection and fully immersing yourself in your sensory experience.
  • Increases resiliency. Mindfulness practices are associated with recovery from substance use and trauma in redefining memories, reducing cravings, and making meaning of the healing process. People who experience chronic stress can learn skills to manage stressful situations and emotional responses when they arise.

Solstice can help

Solstice is a residential treatment center for girls, ages 14 to 18. Our girls and assigned female at birth struggle with managing stress and related mental health issues, including depression, anxiety, ADHD and trauma, when they come to us. Through a unique combination of therapeutic programs based upon both traditional and holistic mental health treatment, we treat our clients with age and gender specific techniques. We offer mindfulness, yoga and physical activity to encourage students to be fully present in their experiences and deepen their connection between their mind and their body.


teen refusing to go to school

Have A Teen Refusing To Go To School? Here’s Some Tips

Have A Teen Refusing To Go To School? Here’s Some Tips 5548 3699 The Solstice Team

When your teen refuses to go to school, it can cause a power struggle in your home. You may find yourself in a constant battle with them. Rest assured knowing your teen is not the first teen to engage in school refusal. Recognize that there are many underlying reasons why your teen may refuse to go to school. Here are some things to consider:

  • The pressure that comes from school may be overwhelming. Juggling academics, a social life, sports, and hobbies may become too much for your teen and not going to school to face this anxiety may be their best coping mechanism.
  • Problems at school. Perhaps your teen is being bullied or feeling isolated. If one does not feel like they fit in anywhere, they are more likely to avoid going to the place where they are reminded of that.
  • Depression, drug abuse, and/or eating disorders. There could be mental or physical symptoms that are contributing to your teens desire to stay away from school. If this could be a possibility, have them evaluated by a medical professional.

Defining School Refusal

School refusal is not to be confused with school phobia. Experts note that there is a difference between the two concepts. School phobia is fear-based. This can be linked to a fear of a specific situation or object at school. School refusal is a sign of broader anxiety- this could be separation anxiety, general anxiety, or social anxiety.

School refusal is considered an urgent situation. Therapists tend to treat school refusal as a crisis. Once you seek professional help, they will immediately work to develop a plan to address the issue at hand.

Resources for School Refusal

Ultimately, you may not have the magic key in helping your teen get in a better mindset about school. However, there are ways you can support them in trying to cope with their emotions. Help for teen refusing to go to school goes beyond the home, but that does not mean you cannot help the situation at all. Here are some ideas on how you can be supportive for your teen:

  1. Start the conversation. Ask your teen why they feel like going to school is not an option for them.
  2. Ask them how you can help. Maybe your teen needs specific help addressing a situation that is bothering them. This can also be where you determine what resources they need.
  3. Provide them with resources. As a parent, it is your job to guide them to places where they can get help immediately.

Solstice RTC can help

Solstice RTC is a program for young girls and assigned female at birth ages 14-18 who struggle with issues such as anxiety, depression, trauma, and/or relationship struggles. This program provides three types of therapy: individual, group, and family therapy. Solstice RTC is dedicated to teaching teens how to incorporate healthy habits into their lives. Students will leave with the skills they need to transition into the world feeling confident, happy, and able to manage their emotions. We can help your family today!

Contact us at 866-278-3345.